Thoughts on the death of Oscar Niemeyer. For more see my book ‘Brazil: Modern Architectures in History’ (Reaktion, 2009)


The great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who died on 5 December, was a character for sure. I met him in 2001 on a visit to Rio and Brasilia that a few years later led to a book and a few articles. A Carioca friend, a composer, put me in touch with Niemeyer and we secured an appointment at his Copacabana office. Driving downtown to the appointment I was paralysed with nerves, not helped by some mischievous advice from my friend’s brother-in-law on how to address the great man. ‘O senhor Niemeyer. Você e um Saco’ (Mr Niemeyer. You are a pain in the arse’). We arrived at a turquoise art deco block on the beachfront, went to the top floor, entered the office, and were shown to a desk adorned with a large black-and-white photograph of two young women lying on their backs, naked. A tiny, prune-like man in a crisp shirt greeted…

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sm_VancouverSara Graham, StreetFinder: Vancouver, 2012, LJT40 Print mounted on dibond, 32 x 48″

I recently started reading Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information  by Manuel Lima. Although the book was recently published (2011) Lima has had  a very interesting website which I have been following for awhile.  As I have written previously in this post, this one and this, mapping has been a central concern within my artistic practice.

In the summer of 2012, I also wrote about my move across the country. This relocation necessitated a re-location, that is, I had to locate and orientate myself to my new geographic specificity. This investigation instigated my reflection upon  a series of work I made entitled StreetFinder fifteen years ago. StreetFinder consisted of mapbooks in which I physically excised everything but the major road systems. Rand McNally, an American company, only published eleven Canadian city mapbooks, most likely…

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